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Rib that isn't Prime?

Harters Jul 8, 2013 10:20 AM

Whenever I read American menus, or posts on boards, about beef rib, it is always described as "Prime".

Now, I know that it's an official designation by the American government and indicates that it is top quality meat.

But, my question is what happens to the rib cut of meat from cattle carcasses not designated as "Prime". How is it used? Would that be what people would normally buy from the supermarket for home cooking and "Prime" is only a restaurant cut of meat?

  1. f
    fourunder Jul 8, 2013 08:52 PM

    Rib that isn't Prime?
    Prime, Choice, Select or Ungraded are all available for human consumption and retail sale.

    Prime Rib/Roast, Standing Rib Roast, Boneless Prime Rib, First Cut/Small/Loin End, Second Cut/Large/Chuck/Blade End all refer to beef cuts intended for roasting, but can easily be cut down for steaks.

    They all come from section of the carcass Ribs 6-12 starting from the shoulder.

    Prime can be purchased by any consumer in a retail or wholesale outlet, not just in a restaurant on a menu.

    Ungraded or Select can often make a surprisingly good roast beef.

    To be designated as Prime, Choice or Select Grade, the purveyor has to pay to have their meat graded by the USDA. Many beef suppliers and small local ranchers do not do so, so their meat is ungraded.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder
      Tom34 Jul 9, 2013 05:24 AM

      Funny you mentioned the Ungraded meat. Restaurant Depot / Jetro sells their house brand called "Superior Angus Beef" which comes from Nebraska Beef LTD. The cases say Choice or Select but not "USDA Choice or USDA Select. The explanation I received was that Nebraska Beef LTD has had many battles with the USDA over the years & refuses to pay for their inspection and has their own in house grading system.

    2. t
      treb Jul 8, 2013 01:07 PM

      The more correct term for that cut is Standing Rib Roast. Most restaurants use the name Prime Rib when describing it on their menus.

      1 Reply
      1. re: treb
        c oliver Jul 8, 2013 03:02 PM

        I also use rib roast.

      2. h
        Harters Jul 8, 2013 10:42 AM

        Thanks, both. I hadnt realised the two uses of the word (not least as we use neither in the UK to describe beef). mcf's link explains things fully.

        It's not often we roast beef in the house but, when we do, it's usually the more expensive sirloin joint rather than rib.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Harters
          mcf Jul 8, 2013 12:01 PM

          I learned the distinction here on CH from another hound... just paying it forward. :-)

          1. re: Harters
            John E. Jul 8, 2013 12:57 PM

            Here's another difference, in the U.S. (at least not my ears) we don't generally refer to a piece of beef or other meat as a 'joint'. We reserve that term for something else. ; )

            1. re: Harters
              bagelman01 Jul 8, 2013 03:00 PM

              It's a cultural difference/preference. In our area a USDA Choice Standing Rib Roast is more expensive than a Sirloin Roast of the same grade.

              In fact, if one sees "Roast Sirloin of Beef" on a restaurant menu, one expects an inferior cut of beef, often sliced very thin and served in too much 'beef juice'.......
              The Roast Sirloin will almost always be Top Sirloin, a far cheaper cut than the sirloin used for a NY or Kansas City Sirloin Strip Steak. Top Sirloin tends to be chewy and grainy.

              1. re: bagelman01
                Harters Jul 8, 2013 03:24 PM

                I suspect that your "top sirloin" is my "topside". That's a cut sold in the UK as a cheaper roasting joint but it's what I would use for, say, a pot roast or cut it into chunks for something like boeuf bouguignon.

                1. re: Harters
                  bagelman01 Jul 8, 2013 04:29 PM

                  Yes, that would be the cut. I don't use it at all in the house. But it ius the cut that one finds in chain restaurants (casual family dining) that will be listed on the menu as a Sirloin Steak and be sold for less than $20.
                  The cut as a roast is a mainstay of 'Greek' owned and operated Diners here in the northeast US.

                  1. re: bagelman01
                    fourunder Jul 8, 2013 08:37 PM

                    I could be mistaken, but I believe your Topside is actually what the US refers to as Bottom Sirloin or Knuckle Joint.

            2. bagelman01 Jul 8, 2013 10:30 AM

              Prime when used with Rib does NOT mean USDA graded 'Prime' beef. It means that the rib is a 'Primal' cut from the animal. It has not been engineered with secondary or tertiary cuts, or ground such as hamburger.

              Thus, one could be served USDA Choice, Prime or Select in a restaurant and it all can be labelled as Prime Rib.
              The three grades above are the most commonly sold for direct consumption, the bulk being choice. There are some lower grades that are used in the manufacture of processed foods (e.g. canned beef stew) or to feed masses on an extremely low budget (such as in prisons).

              2 Replies
              1. re: bagelman01
                Tom34 Jul 8, 2013 05:14 PM

                Then we need to break down the grades themselves. Most of the commodity choice (generic supermarket beef) has a marbling score of small to modest & 7 to 14 days wet age. Most of the branded products such as Certified Angus Beef or Sterling Silver to name a few have a marbling score of Modest or higher & a minimum 21 days of wet age. Often times the latter is as good as low prime grade and is the mainstay of most fine dining restaurants.

                1. re: bagelman01
                  Bada Bing Jul 8, 2013 05:31 PM

                  You're right, but no other primal cut is so designated in restaurant environments, so there is plenty of room for confusion. Prime chuck, anyone?

                2. mcf Jul 8, 2013 10:29 AM

                  No, actually, "prime" rib is a reference to where on the animal the rib came from. Not the same as a USDA meat grade.


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